A freelance writer living and loving in the northern beaches of Sydney...travelling, writing, outdoor activities, gardens, and Pilates are a few of my favourite things. Visit me www.potpourritravels.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/potpourritravels/
Published November 9th 2016
Climb the Harbour Bridge Pylon and Look Out
Relatives from Western Australia came to visit last week and doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb was high on their agenda. However, the cost involved was way out of their budget range. After a bit of research, we found the next best thing - climbing the Bridge Pylon Lookout. From the top of the pylon the expansive and majestic views of the harbour are almost on par with the bridge climb, and the best part is the entrance fee. General admission is a mere $13.00, Seniors $8.50 and children under 4yrs are free.
views north from the top of the pylon showing bridge climbers in blue safety gear
Entrance is through the south-east pylon. The pylon is open 10am - 5pm 7 days a week, and only closed on Christmas Day. If approaching from the north side, take the stairs up the eastern wall of the bridge near Milsons Point Railway Station. If coming from the Quay and the south side, enter the stairs in Cumberland Street, The Rocks.
Stairs on the east side of Milsons Point Railway Station
So we set off on a cloudy day, and parked at Milsons Point. The walk across the bridge to the pylon took about 10 - 15 minutes, allowing for a few photo stops along the way. Ferries and yachts scooted around underneath us, and the harbour-side suburbs were dotted with purple jacaranda trees.
There were about 200 steps to the top of the pylon, but three level breaks and plenty of places to sit and rest on the way up made it fairly accommodating. At the first level is the entrance desk, historical photographs and a museum detailing the how and why the bridge was built.
The second level included a small gift shop and bathroom amenities. The third and top level was a small room with more photos and a perimeter viewing area, so anyone with a fear of heights should feel contained and safe.
Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge was not without its dramas. Construction took place between 1924 - 1932 and many argued that a bridge was not needed as ferry routes already provided transport from one side of the harbour to the other. There was an efficient rail service along the north shore, and a road system across the Gladesville Bridge provided supply routes. Then there was lengthy debate about what the new bridge should look like. Twenty different proposals were submitted, and the chosen design of a single steel arch provided the strength and stability required to support six lanes of traffic, four railway lines and two pedestrian walkways. John Bradfield, a well-known engineer, particularly liked the design of Hell's Gate Bridge in New York, and it was his idea to add the art-deco-style pylons at either end to make it more attractive - something the original design did not have.
Sadly, 16 men died during the construction of the bridge, which was considered a small loss on such an engineering feat, at a time when safety measures were practically non-existent.
As we headed back to Milsons Point, the sun broke through the clouds above, and gave us shimmering views of the Opera House and the Heads in the distance. The traffic whizzing by on our left was hardly noticed. Instead, our thoughts were full of historical facts and figures and those 16 men.
If a climb is still not your thing, there are a few other ways to celebrate our iconic masterpiece:-
Walk or cycle over it Free and easy - hit the pavement and be exhilarated by the breeze in your hair and the views across the harbour. Whether you go north to south or south to north, the return trip options are to catch a ferry or train.
Stand and Admire It There are plenty of choices here - from the nearby foreshores of Kirribilli, Milsons Point, The Rocks Park, take the lift to the top of the Cahill Expressway, or sipping coffee at the Opera House foreshore.
Most of us love a boat ride, and any of the ferries that leave from the Quay criss-cross to Kirribilli, Milsons Point, Lavender Bay, McMahons Point and Darling Harbour; one minute you're beside it marvelling at the silhouette, and the next you're under it gaping skywards - personally, one of my favourite viewpoints of it.